Will Ray "Slick" Thomas, Jr. passed away on Fri, Oct 4th, 2013 at the age of 86 in Panama City, Fla.. Slick was a highly decorated pilot in the United States Air Force; a veteran of WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam War; and a long-time resident of Lynn Haven, Fla.
He was born in Aberdeen, MS in 1927 and served in the Army Air Forces and the Air Force retiring after 23 years of active duty having twice been a squadron commander.
Slick was stationed worldwide including Alaska, Korea, Germany, Oxnard AFB, CA; Thailand, Vietnam and Tyndall AFB, Fla., where he was stationed 3 times and called it home. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross while serving in Korea, the Bronze Star in Vietnam and also earned multiple Air Medals. As a command pilot, Slick flew a variety of aircraft for the Air Defense Command and while in combat in Korea, including the T-33 Shooting Star, F-94 Starfire, F-89 Scorpion, F-101 Voodoo, F-102 Delta Dagger, F-104 Starfighter, F-105 Thunderchief, and the F-106 Delta Dart. In Vietnam, Slick was the Director of Airborne Battle Staff on the EC-130E ABCCC. He accumulated over 4550 flight hours, with 574 combat hours in Korea and Vietnam.
After retiring from the Air Force, Will Ray became a realtor with his wife, Annie Ruth. He soon started Thomas Construction building custom homes in the Bay County Area which he would continue for the next several decades.
An avid bird hunter, he was known to have several top bird dogs. He also loved to play golf which he was able to do well into his 70s. He was a member of the Lynn Haven Rotary Club, the Quiet Birdmen, and was a member of the Lynn Haven Methodist Church for over 40 years.
He is survived by a son Frank Thomas, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.; his daughters, Karen Foley, South Padre Island, Texas, and Alison Thomas, Albuquerque, N.M.; a stepdaughter, Sara Starr, Orlando, Fla.; and a granddaughter, Jocelyn Ceriello, Panama City, Fla.. He is also survived by two brothers; Robert Thomas, Hattiesburg, Miss., and Mac Allen Thomas, Aberdeen, Miss.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Annie Ruth Higgins Thomas, who passed Jun 15th, 1983.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, October 9 in the Wilson Funeral Home Chapel. The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Tuesday from 5-7 p.m.
We would like to thank all those who made Will Ray's last year here a pleasant one, including those at Covenant Hospice, Sims State Veterans Nursing Home, and in particular, Dreama who always had a kind word for an old fighter pilot.
Donations to the Wounded Warrior Project, www.woundedwarriorproject.org in lieu of flowers.
Wilson Funeral Home
Family Owned Since 1911
214 Airport Road
Panama City, Fla.
Wilson Funeral Home - Panama City
214 Airport Road Panama City, FL 32405
Published in Panama City News Herald on Oct. 6, 2013